Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The World Versus Islamic Terrorism

To elaborate a little bit on a post from before:

When anyone talks a lot about the horrors that occurred on 9/11, a pretty typical response for some very left-wing Americans was probably to think something like, "YEAH-- BUT-- powerful, avaricious forces in America have, for the longest time, been working against democracy and against self-determination for the common person in the Middle East. They have been supporting oppressive regimes militarily, and maintaining those regimes often has come down to violence. Poor or middle-class people from the Third World hitting back at the plutocrats in the Middle East and their capitalist, American string-puller sponsors looks a hell of a lot like the traditional narrative the left-wing in the Western world explains its cause with- anybody has to admit that. Isn't this more or less what we're fighting for?"

Despite the superficial resemblance, the undisputable answer to speculations like that is a resounding NO, and the key to why is that Al Qaeda is not the character the analogy requires them to be for the analogy to work.

Al Qaeda is not really like Robin Hood. Nor was most of the ruling order in the old Soviet Union, and the ruling class of communist China wasn't that either. The closest the situation of America versus Al Qaeda gets to being like your fantasy, if it is fair to compare it to that fantasy at all, is evil v. evil. Rather than being Robin Hoods, Al Qaeda's cause is promotion of religion for control and evil. Al Qaeda is like the Nazis or like the evil rulers of Gilead in the novel A Handmaid's Tale. Just because they are the weaker force and the underdogs, and some pretty bad guys are after them, does not make Al Qaeda or other extreme, oppressive Muslim fundamentalists the good guys.

The principle liberals need to adopt, and to learn from the so-called "War on Terror", is that there are limits to liberals' characteristic and wise tolerance of religion. One of those limits is that people do not get to use religion as an excuse to hurt and kill innocent people, no matter what the religion claims. Within America, we easily see that this is wrong: we liberals are all opposed to "pro-life" murderers shooting abortion doctors. Now, America and Al Qaeda operate on a global stage. Taking steps to try to prevent them from coming here to our country to murder our civilians does not automatically equate to an unjust action of imperialism against Muslim nations. Al Qaeda has no right to come here and kill civilians. Global actors need to adapt to global rules that do not have to do with a single nation's sovereignty within its own borders, but that foster all peaceful, cooperative actors' ability to further their own peaceful interests and to live without being interfered with. This also has nothing to do with using things we don't like about other peoples' religions to justify our kicking down their national defenses and deposing the rulers and authorities of their countries. Rather, the only thing, as usual, that justifies such force for liberals is the necessity of use of such force to defend ourselves. As always, when it is proportionate to respond to a violent threat by traditional law-enforcement investigation and surveillance measures, our foreign policy as concerns the threat of foreign-based terrorism should be limited to those responses. So self-defense responses to attacks do not have to do with intolerance to religion, but rather with our own self-interest in protecting the safety of our citizens.

All liberals need to do to overcome this problem (this problem in speaking to our countrymen in America about our approach to terrorism) is to accept these ideas and to talk and act as if we accept them. People will see that we "get it" and we will better withstand smears that we do not know how to respond to these threats properly. Also we will understand our fellow man and our place in the world better; we will be better prepared for the future. We will be encouraging behavior that will help the world grow into an international community that can eventually work, rather than becoming a free-for-all that may only subside into peace when eventual, inevitable wars settle things and leave the world (after who knows what kind of bloodshed) subject to a single master-- unless those wars destroy civilization enough so that we are left with anarchy, and a world that will be even more warlike than it is now.